Patients at VA’s Edward Hines Jr., hospital in Illinois have shown slight improvement from an experimental brain-stimulation treatment pioneered by researchers there. The treatment involves surgical placement of electrodes in specific areas of patients’ brains. The patients also receive a surgically implanted battery pack, which generates the electrical impulses sent to the electrodes.
Known as DBS, or deep brain stimulation, the treatment could offer Parkinson’s sufferers with a new avenue of hope.
“DBS surgery has been viewed quite positively by both patients and providers,” said Dr. Frances Weaver, the study’s lead author. “There is an immediate effect on patients who have DBS on their motor function.”
Involuntary muscle movements have been reduced or eliminated altogether, Weaver said, enabling patients to move about more easily and perform functions that the previously could not do.
VA researchers advise that the treatment is limited in its effectiveness – best performed on otherwise healthy patients. The study group was primarily male and elderly as well, they said. Also, there is no indication that DBS could prolong life expectancy.